Fun Summer Family-Friendly Activities by Lexi C.

In the blink of an eye, Spring has disappeared and made way for the longest season in Arizona – summer. With our terrifyingly high temperatures and dry heat, many parents may be dreading the next few months that are sure to push kids back indoors to the safety of the air conditioner.

 

However, the blistering heat shouldn’t stop the family from having fun. There are plenty of fun family activities and weekend road trips for the whole family to enjoy around Phoenix.

Swim, swim, swim!

If your family doesn’t have a pool, don’t be afraid – there are plenty of watering holes throughout the valley that are open to the public. Some even have water slides and splash parks! Sign the kids up for swimming lessons offered by the City of Phoenix by certified teachers and lifeguards. Check out the City of Phoenix’s pool page to find the closest neighborhood pool to you.

 

Looking for something more exciting? Take the family to one of the many water parks throughout the valley. Check out the nation’s first wave pool at Big Surf in Tempe, play mini golf at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, or ride the roller coaster water slide at Wet ‘n’ Wild in Glendale. Families planning on visiting the parks regularly should consider investing in a season pass. Don’t forget to keep your eye out for discount days!

 

For the families ready to take it easy for the weekend, consider getting a room at one of the many Arizona family-friendly resorts that feature their own enormous pool parks. The Arizona Grand Resort is home to the Oasis Water Park, complete with a floating river and waterslide. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is another great resort with multiple pools, each offering guest different attractions. Take advantage of the family friendly activities in the hotel pools before heading to the either resort’s excellent dining and spa experiences!

 

No matter where you decide to swim, make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen!

Head up north!

Another great Arizona summer tradition is to take a road trip up north for the weekend to escape the heat. Considering renting an SUV, packing it full of supplies, and heading towards a cooler town in the mountains or a nearby lake.

 

One attraction close to town is Lake Pleasant. Heading northwest from downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is only about an hour drive. Rent a boat, play on the beach, pack a picnic, or even camp out overnight at the Desert Tortoise campsite on the lake’s shore.

 

For more natural family-friendly fun, head up to Slide Rock in Oak Creek. The Slide Rock State Park is located just north of Sedona, and features the same beautiful scenery and landscape as the famous red-rock town. Spend the day hiking the trails, exploring the orchard, or sliding down the natural waterslide in formed in Walnut Creek.

 

Just to the east of Phoenix lay the White Mountains. Home to a number of quaint communities, including Show Low, Alpine, and Greer, the White Mountain region is the perfect example of Arizona’s truly diverse geography. Explore the hiking trails and lakes all around the region, or spend some time in exploring local shops and restaurants.

Have fun learning!

Even though school is out, there are plenty of fun family activities to do in the summer that are both educational and entertaining. Take advantage of the living in a big city by visiting some of the amazing museums and learning centers.

 

Start with the Arizona Science Center, a science themed museum filled with tons of hands-on activities. Kids will have a blast learning all about anatomy, solar energy, and forces of nature as they wander through the multi-leveled maze of exhibits. Don’t forget to catch a showing of the latest documentary in the center’s big screen, 3D movie theater!

 

For the musicians in the family, be sure to check out the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale. The museum is home of over 6,500 different instruments from around the world that are displayed throughout the museum in regionally-based exhibits. Sign up for a self-guided tour and listen to a tour guide narrate all about music throughout the museum. Be sure to check out the museum’s kids programs and have them play in the Experience gallery to get some hands-on action with different instruments!

 

Of course, one of the most wild museums in the Valley is the newcomer, the Odysea in the Desert in Scottsdale. This compound is home to a number of attractions, including one of the largest aquariums in the southwest, Odysea Aquarium. Spend the day at Odysea learning about marine life, dinosaurs, butterflies, and the human body at one of the 5 major attractions on the compound. And throughout the year Odysea throws a number of family-friendly events, such as screening movies in the courtyard, fitness classes, and co

What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

 

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (CASEL)

“A comprehensive mission for schools is to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring, and contributing citizens” (Greenberg).

Often children with high academic skills experience a gap in social-emotional learning.  Some children find traditional classrooms do not meet their academic and social-emotional needs.  These children may need SEL environment to challenge them and reinforce social-emotional learning. Often children who exhibit behavioral challenges are at times not challenged enough in the learning environment.  By using SEL curriculum and SEL rich environment these children can be better served and given the social-emotional learning and challenges needs for them to succeed in a classroom.

 

Through developmentally and culturally appropriate classroom instruction and application of learning to everyday situations, SEL programming builds children’s skills to recognize and manage their emotions, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish positive goals, make responsible decisions, and handle interpersonal situations effectively (Greenberg).

 

Children with high academic skills benefit highly from SEL environments.  These types of classroom provide hands-on learning, sensory experiences, and social-emotional based play and learning. At Raising Arizona Preschool, we are committed to Social-Emotional Learning. We have classroom activities with SEL environment and curriculum to engage and serve children who may benefit from this type of learning style.

 

 

 

 

References

“What is SEL?” CASEL, www.casel.org/what-is-sel/, (June 19, 2017)

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Greenberg2/publication/5261862_Enhancing_School-Based_Prevention_and_Youth_Development_Through_Coordinated_Social_Emotional_and_Academic_Learning/links/09e41509c03bf22f88000000.pdf

Spring Family Activities by Lexi

 

We’ve reached that beautiful time of year again in Arizona – Spring! From February to May Phoenicians are blessed with that gorgeous weather that makes you happy to be living in Phoenix – and eager to have your kids spend as much time outside before that summer heat hits!

 

Luckily, there are plenty of low cost but high rewarding family activities in the Valley. Take advantage of the excellent deals and natural beauty found in our desert oasis and get your kids outside and active.

Take a hike

One of the benefits of living in the Valley is the healthy options of hiking trails. Ranging from expert to beginner, there are plenty of trails that children and adults of all ages can take advantage of. Consider taking the little ones to Hole in the Rock at Papago near Tempe, or a day trip towards the White Tanks for some fun outside city limits. Luckily, Visit Phoenix has published an extensive list of local hikes that feature floral varieties of all kinds and hikes of all difficulties, so whether you’re exploring with grown children or preschoolers, you’ll be able to find something to just right for everyone.

Check out a ballgame

Another fun fact about Phoenix? We’re known for Spring Training. The Cactus League Spring Training, a seasonal rite in Greater Phoenix, begins – you guessed it – during the spring each year. The 2018 Cactus League season features 15 major league teams and more than 200 games from February 23 to March 27. Ticket Prices are based on age and game, but no sports-loving family could afford to miss such a vital part of Phoenix identity. Plus, nothing inspires children to take up sports more than to grow up going to games!

Take a day trip

Known as The Grand Canyon State, the world famous natural wonder is only a short 4-hour drive from Central Phoenix. The canyon is among the most visited national wonders in the world. No child should ever miss out on experience one of the most humbling natural wonders, especially when it is so close to home.

 

Not all trips have to be far away. Consider taking the family to Saguaro Lake, about 45-minutes from Phoenix in Tonto National Forest. Or, consider visiting the Salt River and take a chance on seeing the wild horses.

 

Another great lake is Lake Pleasant. About an hour from downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is an excellent escape from city life. Children will love to fish for the first time, play on Scorpion Bay, or maybe even camp overnight.

Check out one of the many zoos

Another great aspect of the valley is the number of zoos. Cultivate your child’s love of nature and life of all kinds by exploring The Phoenix Zoo, The Wildlife World Zoo, or even the latest addition, the Odysea Aquarium.

 

No child can resist falling in love with animals. And with the amount of educational shows and demonstrations seen at many of the zoos, children are guaranteed to learn more about the world they live in and develop a better understanding of their roles in keeping the world a safer place for all types of life.

 

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we encourage families to spend quality time together. Each year we several family events at no cost for our families and enjoy seeing all the families that come to enjoy dinner on us, Christmas Around the World, and other family events.

Meditation and Mindfulness of Children

 

 

 Meditations, yoga, and other mindfulness methods are cropping up in school across the country.  Research has shown that teaching kids mindfulness practices can build attentiveness, respect, self-control, and empathy.  Studies also suggest these techniques help to reduce stress, hyperactivity, ADHD symptoms, and depression.

 

Giving children these tools to help them offers freedom from negative thoughts and behaviors. The techniques help to build self-confidence and treat others and themselves with appreciation and respect.

In Ohio, US Rep. Tim Ryan has started the Skills for Life program in public schools to teach deep breathing, meditations, and other critical problem -solving skills for elementary school-aged children.  What was discovered was these practices helped children to control emotions, reduced bullying, and increased awareness in both children and teachers.

In San Franciso School Districts over 3,000 children benefited from academic improvement from simply using meditation time and “quiet time”  Fighting was reduced and suspension rates dropped and class attendance rose!

Meditation and mindful practices can be used with even the youngest of children.  Early learners can get a huge head start by learning meditation and mindfulness techniques that will carry them throughout their life.  Young children are very receptive to these practices and enjoy simply yet effective mindfulness exercises.  Benefits also reach teachers and create an overall balance, appreciation, and joyfulness in programs which use these practices.

 

You can begin today with a simple yet highly effective guided meditation with your child like the one below:

This guided meditation brings a visual component to a very simple deep breathing exercise. You can do this standing or seated.

  1. Relax your body and begin to take deep inhales and slow exhales through the nose.
  2. Start to take a slow, deep breath to fill your belly up with air, as if you’re trying to blow up a big balloon. Expand your belly as much as you can.
  3. Slowly let the air out of the balloon (through the nose) as you release the breath from the belly.
  4. Encourage your kids to feel their entire body relax each time they exhale; each time air is slowly being released from the balloon. You can even make a “hissing” noise to encourage them to slow down the exhale even more, “Like letting air out of the balloon.”
  5. Continue for several minutes.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool we practice mindfulness techniques with the children we serve.  Teachers have had a simple yet effective introduction to working with young children using meditation techniques.  Both staff and children are encouraged daily to use these methods in the classroom.  The teachers use deep breathing practices as a form of calming children and aiding in negative behaviors. As, we continue our journey to mindfulness look for Raising Arizona Preschool to be instituting a full meditation and mindfulness program for all children, family, and staff.  Raising Arizona Preschool is committed to mindfulness of children.

 

 

 

What is a CDA Credential?

CDA (Child Development Associate) is a national credential awarded by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. This credential requires formal training, experience, observation, exam and is awarded by the Council in Washington D.C.

 

It is a sign of a highly qualified early childhood educator.  It a arduous process which involves education, building a portfolio, and taking high stakes exam.  Through the process the early educators learn a lot about child development, early education, and their own practices.  The process of being awarded the credential signifies the recipient is up to date with theories, philosophies, and is highly qualified to teach young children.

 

The Child Developmental Associate Credential is a coveted license by most early educators.  Programs that have CDA staff are quality programs that understand the needs of young children and how they learn and grow.  The credential must renewed every three years with proof of ongoing training in the are of early education.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we have CDA staff along with staff who are in the process of receiving their credential. Raising Arizona Preschool values high trained and quality staff. We are a high-quality program that invests in our employees, so they can provide a high level of education services.  To learn more about Raising Arizona Preschool please call 623-77-0113.  Your child deserves a high-quality program that will spark the imagination and help them learn and grow.

Holiday Lights around Town

 

It is the time of years, and children love to look at lights!  The Valley has some amazing lights displays. From Surprise to the Foothills holidays lights set the sky aglow.

 

For about $10 a ticker you can enjoy the Lights of the World at the Phoenix Fair grounds.  This is largest light and lantern festival in North American. The lights brighten the Phoenix skies from November 16 through January 2. With 11 exhibits and 75 stunning displays of different cultures around the world this show of lights is sure to delight the whole family.  You learn more and buy tickets at https://lightsoftheworldus.com/ .

 

You don’t have to break the bank for family holiday lights. If your looking free lights around town try Glendale Glitters in downtown Glendale.  The award-winning lights display in Glendale in a family favorite. Learn more at https://www.glendaleaz.com/glitters/.

 

Mesa is home to the Mormon Temple Christmas Lights display. Open nightly through December 31, there are thousands upon thousands of lights with unique displays, music, and more.  This free event is a must see.  Learn more at http://www.mesachristmaslights.com/

 

Don’t want to get out of the car? AZcentral publishes an annual driving map of holiday lights.  The drive takes about an hour and showcases the best private home with light displays.  Get the map here and take the family on a enchanted winter’s drive around the Valley.   https://www.azcentral.com/pages/interactives/phoenix-holiday-lights-map/

 

With so many options there is one that fits every family. Children love lights and will delight in whichever option you choose.  Spend some quality time with your family this season and enjoy the abundance of holiday lights around Phoenix.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we seek to delight children daily. Our classrooms are designed to inspire children’s imaginations and peek curiosity.  We encourage families to carry this mission over into their lives. When you delight children, amazing things happen.

Nutrition effects your child

Making sure children get the right amount of the right foods is important.  Did you know nutrition affects behavior, sleeping patterns, growth, and even brain development? A healthy diet helps children to learn:

  • Make half of what is on your child’s plate fruits and vegetables
  • Choose healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts, and eggs
  • Serve whole-grain breads and cereals because they are high in fiber.
  • Broil, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them
  • Limit fast food and junk food
  • Offer water or milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas

Picky eating is a very typical behavior for preschoolers as they begin to assert their independence.  It can be very frustrating when you have a picky eater. Try these strategies:

  • Let your child be the “produce picker” at the grocery store. Let them help choose the fruits and vegetables you will take home and eat.
  • Offer choices. Instead of saying “Would you like broccoli for dinner?” say, “Help me choose which vegetable we will make with dinner. Should we make broccoli or carrots?”
  • Let your child serve themselves. Children are more likely to eat foods when they put their food on their own plate.
  • Don’t be a “short-order cook”, making a different meal for your preschooler. Your child will be okay if they eat a little less at first.
  • Let your child help in the kitchen. Children will take pride in what they have done and be more likely to eat foods they have helped prepare.

If your child continues to be a picky eater even after trying various strategies, you should consult with your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical causes.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we take pride on our fresh cooked meals. We are part of the Federal Meals Programs, which means we prepare and serve healthy and diverse meals. You can rest assured your child is getting healthy meals and snacks at Raising Arizona Preschool each day.  We offer wide variety of fruits and vegetable daily and give children the opportunity to try new healthy foods.

 

Thankfulness of Children

Do you struggle with a child who has yet to learn appreciation or be grateful? Young children are very egocentric; they still believe the world revolves around them, so they do not understand the concept of gratitude. By learning gratitude, children become sensitive to feelings of others, develop empathy and foster other life skills.

So, how do you teach this skill?

Children model behavior of their parents and other adults in their life;  it starts with you! Make sure to you use manners; say “please” and “thank you”, talk about what you are grateful for, have children help in daily tasks. Write thank you notes and encourage generosity by donating or giving to others.

The month of November is a great time to talk to your children about being thankful. Discuss the things that you are appreciative for and encourage your children to do the same, every day.  Take this opportunity to donate to charity and have your child help. Be sure to show gratitude in daily life and teach your child about “thankfulness”.

Children will not learn thankfulness overnight, it is something that has to be developed over time. Model a sense of gratitude and thankfulness each day and soon you will have a child that is thankful.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we believe in gratitude and thankfulness. Each day we model thankfulness and encourage children to do to the same.  We value thankfulness and turn teach the children about this essential life skill.

Encouraging a love of Books

Research shows that parents, caregivers, and family members can start fostering a love of reading as early as birth. This happens by reading to your child and modeling reading. Surround you child in a book rich environment from the start and it will carrying with them through life.

 

Spend Time Reading to Your Children

Families are encouraged to start reading to their children, even as babies. Taking just five to ten minutes a day to read to your child. This can be at playtime or a bedtime routine. Even at a young age, allowing your child to see, touch, and play with the book while you are reading creates interest and an emotional connection between language and the feelings of being comforted.

Older children should be encouraged to try to read along, to say the memorized parts of their favorite books, to point to the pictures and to ask questions. As children get older, discuss the “what if” questions about the pictures and the story this will lead to creative thinking.  Families can also encourage older children to read by allowing them to choose their own books. Children will begin to realize that we read for a purpose; whether it’s to learn something or for enjoyment.

Model Reading

It is important for children to see that their family members choose to spend some time reading. Set aside some time for family reading together. Remove other distractions during this time to model reading by focusing on their book.  Book breaks are an excellent way to encourage reading together.

Tell Stories and Encourage Imagination

Even before children can read, they love to tell stories. This should be encouraged without any demands regarding the story. Just let the children explore their imagination out loud.  Children are natural storytellers, give them an audience and they blossom.

In today’s world, children are surrounded by electronics and technology and the magic of books is sometimes undiscovered. Becoming a reader happens one book at a time and developing a foundational love for reading starts in childhood.

 

At Raising Arizona Preschool, we believe strongly in creating a love of books and reading. Each day children are exposed to rich reading activities and storytelling.  These activities foster both reading, language development, and a love a learning that will carry with you child as they continue through school.

Does Time Out Work?

Time out, it used to be a pretty popular form of discipline, but we are hearing less and less about time outs. Why is this? Does time out work?

The short answer? Yes. and No. Let me explain.

Time out, it used to be a pretty popular form of discipline, but we are hearing less and less about time outs. Why is this? Does time out work?

What is Time Out

Time out is supposed to be a brief separation between the caregiver and the child. The point of time out is to allow the child to practice self-calming skills.  Time out is when we need to quite frankly, completely ignore the child in trouble. Why is this? Because most of the time when kids misbehave it is to get attention. If a child is in time out and getting our attention still, the method of discipline does not work.

Timeouts were created based on the assumption that  kids were being raised in environments where they had plenty of “time in’s”. Which are positive, loving interactions.

Why Doesn’t Time Out Work? 

Too often times time out is not being used the way it was meant to. We spend time arguing with the child. Other children interact with the child in time out. The child whines, or cries, and moves, forcing the caregiver to interact with he child by reminding them to calm down, or go back to their time out space. This gives the child the attention they are seeking. Not the break or the time they need to learn how to calm down on their own.

In addition to the above children now are too often times reminded of the bad they do, instead of being encouraged and filled with positive reinforcements.

We Need to Try Time IN

In addition to using time outs, parents and child care providers need to practice Time In. What is this? It is when we praise the children in our lives for GOOD behavior.

Time out is really one of the only methods of discipline caregivers in a child care setting can use, yet we tend to use it ineffectively time and time again. Because of this, time outs rarely work.

For more about using time out effectively check out this post, where we discussed in depth how to effectively use time out. 


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